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January 22, 2008

ASEAN/TOURISM
Thailand hosts ministerial meeting

Recognising the important of tourism to the economies of the region, Thailand is currently hosting the 11th Ministerial Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Tourism to attract more tourists to the region and expand the transportation network among ASEAN member countries as well as exchange labour forces for the benefit of all.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Paiboon Wattanasirithum presided over the opening ceremony, kicking off a week-long meeting which ends this Friday (January 17-26) that Asean may build cooperation to liberalise flexible labour availability in the tourism sector and open up travel among the association's 10 member countries, as well as working towards expanding transportation network linkages.

Formal and informal cooperation agreements are expected to boost the number of tourists visiting the Asean countries, Mr. Paiboon said.

Expanded skilled labour forces needed for the tourism sector included the front office staff, maids and housekeepers, and food and beverage workers as well as related tours and excursion services.

Meanwhile, Thailand's Minister of Tourism and Sports Suwit Yodmanee said that last year some 60 million tourists visited Asean countries, representing an 11 per cent growth from 2006. Thailand ranked second, behind Malaysia in terms of the overall number of tourist visits.

Mr. Suvit said Thailand had paid special attention to environmental protection and renewal as well as expanding tourism into local communities.

Thailand's income from the tourism sector in 2007 increased 9.91 per cent and was on a rising trend, the minister said.

Courtesy TNA


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